“I’m very happy to have finally won it, but it really wasn’t me, it was my crew,” credited Milev of Mark Liebel as tactician, Jim Traun on mast, Ron Hyat on bow and Arthur Blodgett as trimmer (picture above). The team came on strong on day two with a pair of bullets to come into Sunday with a three-point advantage, which held up when a lack of breeze kept teams ashore all day.
Milev will take home The Lambert Lai Trophy, named in honor of the previous USJCA President who passed away in December 2014. John Mollicone with Tim Healy on BLIND SQUIRREL collected second place with 19 points, and Carter White’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM placed third with 21 pts.
Milev noted that the Tampa Bay venue is “very challenging, and we ended up being lucky a bunch of times.” The event attracted a who’s who of J/24 sailors, making the competition very tough. “At least five other boats could have won it,” conceded Milev. “The top boats were here…maybe five out of the top 10 in the world!”
It’s a solid start to a year that sees his home club of Port Credit Yacht Club in Mississauga, Ontario Canada host the 2016 J/24 North American Championship from September 8-11.
First day report
It was a beautiful and pristine opening day with the teams enjoying mostly sunny skies, warm temperatures and breeze between 10-15 knots throughout the day.
White’s SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM from Portland, Maine may not have won any of the first four races, but steady scores in the top three put them at the head of the 25-boat pack. Jim Lampman’s HOT CHOCOLATE rebounded from a nine in the opening contest to add a 1-3-2 for 15 points and hold on to second place. Milev’s ANGEL OF HARLEM was resting in third with 18 pts.
Class stalwart John Mollicone with Tim Healy on BLIND SQUIRREL began the Championship with a bullet, followed by St. Petersburg NOOD J/24 winner Nobuyuki Imai on SIESTA in second place and White in third. Behind Lampman’s HOT CHOCOLATE in race two were White and Milev. These same boats juggled the standings in the next contest: Milev in 1st, followed by White and Lampman. Mike Ingham closed Friday with the victory, as Lampman and White kept their teams in the top three.
Second day report
The standings were juggled dramatically after the second day of sailing in variable winds between 6-8 knots with some higher puffs. Seven races were now completed for the event. Milev’s ANGEL OF HARLEM leapt from third place to first after another three races went in the books. With a 3-1-1 on Saturday, Milev dropped a 7th in the opening race and had 16 net points.
Also moving up in the standings was the Mollicone/Healy duo on BLIND SQUIRREL, they notched a 1-2-3 for 19 net points and second place. The SEA BAGS SAILING TEAM dropped to third place but was still in the mix, just two points back.
Mollicone began the day with a victory, ahead of White and Milev. Milev secured only bullets for the remaining two contests. Behind him in race six were Mollicone and Christopher Stone’s VELOCIDAD. Ingham grabbed the silver spot in the final duel with Mollicone in third.
And, with not much wind on the final day, that’s how it all ended on lovely Tampa Bay. The ANGEL OF HARLEM soaring into the heavens while the BLIND SQUIRREL found its nuts to survive and the SEA BAGGERS packed all their bronze hardware into their kit and left! Next!
Notably, while having a bit of a familiarization issue with the notoriously capricious Tampa Bay, Erica Beck Spencer with her all-women’s team on SEA BAGS WOMEN’S SAILING TEAM from Portland YC got it going on Saturday and posted some awesome results- an 8-16-4 was good enough for the fifth best score for the day! Next time, ladies! For more J/24 Midwinters sailing information